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Ever wondered about how QR codes came along or confused on how to best display them- we did some research to find out.
COVID 19 QR Codes – What You Need To Know
As part of the New Zealand wide response to the current COVID-19 pandemic, all businesses must display an official COVID Tracer QR Code poster prominently at the entrance to their property during all Alert Levels (1-4).
QR Code posters need to be easily accessible, highly visible, and unique for each individual location that a business maintains as part of its premises.
What Are QR Codes And How Do They Work?
QR codes are made up of a series of vertical and horizontal black block patterns arranged in a grid-like manner displayed on a white background. The term ‘QR Code’ stands for Quick Response Code. QR codes are a type of machine readable barcode containing information about a specific item (or, in this case, a location).
QR codes were not developed specifically for contact tracing; in fact, they have been around for a while and were first used in the automotive industry back in 1994 for quick and easy automotive part identification.
Using the camera function on a mobile device (phone, iPad etc.), the QR code image is processed using the ‘Reed–Solomon error correction‘ methodology to interpret the image and extract the desired information for further use within the appropriate software application.
COVID QR codes contain a Global Location Number (GLN), which uniquely identifies a single location for the purpose of tracking individuals who have visited this location, when and for how long. QR Codes in New Zealand are used in conjunction with the NZ COVID Tracer App.
What Is The NZ COVID Tracer App?
Available on the Apple App Store and Google Play, the COVID Tracer App is a Ministry of Health commissioned application that interprets the information received from scanning QR Codes.
As you enter a business and scan the QR Code, the App records this information in a Digital Diary. Keeping a record of the places you visited, the day and time, the address and the location’s Global Identification Number, the App’s Digital Diary is a useful tool when keeping track of your movements if exposure to COVID 19 is detected in the community.
The App also has Bluetooth capabilities which, if turned on, can prove useful if you have been near someone who tests positive for COVID-19 (if they also use the App and have Bluetooth tracing turned on). The Bluetooth tracing function records how close you came to the other App user and for how long using a digital ID code sent between the devices.
Find more information on the COVID Tracer App and how to set it up on your mobile phone here.
Do I Have To Provide My Personal Information?
When setting up the App, you will be asked if you wish to enter some personal details such as phone number, NHI Number, and your current residential address etc. This is entirely optional, but it does help with contact tracing if the need arises.
Your NHI Number refers to the National Health Index number, which is usually assigned at birth. You may find this on communications from your doctor, hospital appointment letters, Plunket Books and the like. See here for more information on how to find your NHI Number.
How Do I Get A QR Code?
Official NZ COVID Tracer QR code posters are available through the Ministry of Health website here. You will need to provide the following details:
- First and last names
- Proof of identity (a valid New Zealand drivers licence)
- Address details (for the business location you are applying for)
- Email addresses and phone numbers (for yourself and each location)
Do I Need A QR Code?
The short answer is probably – Yes! All businesses and workplaces are required to display a NZ COVID Tracer QR Code at all alert levels (1 to 4) by law. A QR Code must be displayed at any place of work, including where a worker is likely to be while at work.
This includes all forms of public transport (except for services such as airlines where the ticketing process includes gaining the customer’s details), workplaces without fixed premises such as ride-sharing services like Uber and taxi services.
Private events, community organisations, faith-based gatherings and voluntary organisations are not legally required to display a QR Code; however it is a good idea to do so anyway.
Displaying Your QR Code Posters
QR Codes must be displayed at or near the main entrance or entrances to your premises. They can also be placed at additional locations around the building, such as the reception desk or check-out area.
When printing out your QR Code, it is best to use A4 sized paper and print in colour if possible. The bright yellow striped colouring of the poster is designed to increase visibility and indicate its significant importance safety-wise.
Using specialised water and fade resistant paper and/or laminating the poster is also a good idea if it is likely to be exposed to the weather.
The Ministry of Health has advised the placement of the poster should be within easy reach (approximately 130cm from the ground) and positioned for best visibility and access.
COVID Tracing Privacy Concerns
All of the information you provide for use within the Tracer App and on QR codes is only ever to be used only for purposes of contact tracing during the New Zealand COVID-19 pandemic response.
According to the NZ Ministry of Health, the COVID Tracer App saves QR Code information for a maximum of 60 days. None of the information collected is shared with other businesses, private citizens or government departments unless there is direct involvement with the COVID-19 public health response.
The Ministry also states that Bluetooth tracing does not record who you came into contact with or where you were; it simply notifies you if you have been near someone who has tested positive for the virus. The notification does not disclose the identity of this person.
Any information contained in your Digital Diary is stored solely on your phone. It is entirely up to you whether you choose to share this information with the Ministry of Health Contract Tracing team.
Please note all information provided in this article is intended as a guide only; always check the official Ministry of Health website for up to date information on COVID19 contact tracing and QR Code scanning.